When it comes to season-long leagues, your lineup will always feature your top wideouts. You just have to go with your best players no matter what. In DFS contests, though, you better keep an eye on some of the upcoming WR/CB matchups if you want to really identify the best and worst plays of the upcoming slate of games.
With wide receivers being the second-highest scoring position only behind quarterbacks, it’s critical to pick the best possible players at the position if you want to rack up big-time points every week. One important point to consider that most people forget about: different wideouts face different cornerbacks, and different cornerbacks have wildly varying defensive levels.
I’m here to highlight three of the best WR/CB matchups to target, and three of the worst WR/CB matchups to avoid for the Week 8 slate of games.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Target
Rashard Higgins (CLE) vs. Trayvon Mullen (LV)
Unless you have been living under a rock, you must know what’s happened to the cursed Browns. That’s right, OBJ is out for the year. Before the injury, Higgins was already Cleveland’s WR3 and will now feature as the number two wideout in the Browns offense. This weekend, Cleveland faces Las Vegas, and the Raiders have one of the worst secondaries around the league, which should boost Higgins value even more than it actually has risen during after Odell’s news broke.
Higgins has finished as a WR3 in two of the last three games, and he’s played more than 55% of offensive snaps in each of the last three weeks topping at 85% last weekend. Not coincidentally, he had his best game of the year with 17 PPR (6 tgt/6 rec/110 yds/0 TD).
CB Trayvon Mullen started the season quite nicely, allowing just five completions in 10 targets and giving up just 4.9 PPR points per game in the first three weeks of the season. After that, though, Mullen has descended to hell and become a nightmare for his own team. These are Mullen’s last three games:
- 4/4/40/0 for 8 PPR against
- 5/3/71/1 for 16.1 PPR against
- 9/8/62/1 for 20.2 PPR against
QBs targeting Mullen in those games reached 108.3, 143.7, and 132.4 passer ratings, and Mullen allowed 83% of his targets to end in completions. Get ready for Higgins’ best game of the season.
Justin Jefferson (MIN) vs. Josh Jackson (GB)
The Packers have had one-and-a-half viable cornerbacks playing in their secondary this season. Other than Jaire Alexander—a true stud finally putting everything together—it’s only been Chandon Sullivan keeping up with some relatively good numbers this year.
The Vikings arrive at Week 8 with Adam Thielen expected to see shadow coverage from Alexander, which means Jefferson will face one of the other three Green Bay’s corners. Jefferson is projected to go against Josh Jackson, who has been terrible so far. In six games this season, Jackson has allowed 12 completions on 16 targets (75%) and has been scored a touchdown on once. He’s giving quarterbacks all they need to stay at a 113.3 passer rating.
Jefferson put up a dud in Week 1 against Green Bay (4.6 PPR), but he wasn’t the number two player he’s turned into as of late. In all but one game from Week 3, Jefferson has 5+ targets, 100+ yards, and/or a touchdown. He’s finished those three games with 30.5, 14.3, and 39.6 fantasy points, his season-high coming last weekend against Atlanta (11/9/166/2).
Josh Jackson is targeted down the field often, and has allowed more than 11 yards per reception in two games, and more than nine yards per target in those two also. With Thielen getting the attention of Jaire, odds are Jefferson finds his way to a monster performance.
Travis Fulgham (PHI) vs. Trevon Diggs (DAL)
It’s been an up-and-down year for rookie Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys spent a second-round pick on Stefon’s brother, and while he’s had his ups (he limited Julio Jones to 4.4 PPR points in Week 2), his downs have been horrific (22+ PPR points allowed to Terry McLaurin).
Truth be told, Fulgham isn’t a super-proved otherworldly talent but neither is McLaurin yet. Since entering the fantasy-circles, though, Fulgham has scored at least 12.3 PPR points, with back-to-back games of 19+ in Weeks 5 and 6 topping at 31.2 PPR points in W5 (31/10/152/1).
Fulgham couldn’t score a TD for the first time last week, but he’s caught at least five passes in all of his last three games while getting targeted 10+ in each of the matches he played in that span.
Combining Fulgham’s volume (10+ targets), and Diggs average 1.81 PPR per target allowed in coverage, we could be in front of an easy 18+ fantasy-point performance this weekend coming Fulgham’s way. Given the current status of Philadelphia’s healthy bill, he will still be the number one receiver of the team going against a very putrid defense as a whole.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Avoid
Mike Evans (TB) vs. James Bradberry (NYG)
Evans is one of just four players expected to see shadow coverage this weekend. It will be the third time this season that happens to the WR1, and let’s say it went very well for him the other two. Against New Orleans (Marshon Lattimore) and Green Bay (Jaire Alexander), Evans could only score 7.2 and 2.0 PPR points, which... Ugh.
While that is not all Evan’s fault because Tampa’s offense is stacked—he was targeted four and two times—the truth is that he didn’t help matters. It’s been two weeks in a row below six PPR points for Evans, and although Godwin will be out this weekend who knows who of all Bucs will eat the most.
Bradberry has been a virtual weekly-shadower for the Giants this season, doing so four times already to great success. He’s surrendered just 107 yards combined and never more than 34 to a single player—while covering the likes of Allen Robinson and Amari Cooper—and has not given up a touchdown and more than 10.6 PPR points to a wide receiver since Week 1.
Only 12 cornerbacks have been targeted 45+ times through Week 7. Among those in that group, Bradberry has allowed the second-fewest yards (300), third-fewest touchdowns (2), second-lowest passer rating (65.5), and fifth-lowest completion percentage (58.7%). Fear the Berry.
Nelson Agholor (LV) vs. Denzel Ward (CLE)
I know this isn’t a top-tier wide receiver but I’m including Agholor here because he’s been one of the most-discussed waiver wire picks this weekend and you might be thinking about playing him at your WR2/FLEX spot this weekend. Makes sense, considering Agholor has been incredibly efficient and has scored 14+ PPR points in his last three games, coming from his best performance of the season (9/5/107/1 for 21.7 PPR) against Tampa last weekend.
Look. I love Agholor, and I have had him ranked higher than most folks since way earlier than they started to catch up with his exploits. But Ward is no joke. The raw stats are betraying Ward a bit this season, as he’s been better than the numbers show. His four touchdowns allowed bulk up his PPR given up a ton, but other than that he’s been great.
Ward is letting QBs connect less than 60% of the time (29 receptions in 49 targets), is allowing a paltry 6.6 yards per target, and has given up just 52 yards after the catch (no other CB with 45+ targets have fewer than 56 YAC against, and only three other are below 100).
Still waiting for W7 data to arrive, but these are all CBs with— Antonio Losada (@chapulana) October 26, 2020
<60% Cmp% allowed
<100.0 Passer Rating when targeted
<50 YAC surrendered through W6
Also, and in case you missed it, @denzelward is on his age-23 season. Yes, you read that right pic.twitter.com/AQ5XueG3Vt
I found this nugget of information the other day, and it paints a picture of how unique of a talent Ward is already at just 23 years of age.
Chase Claypool (PIT) vs. Marcus Peters (BAL)
The Steelers as a whole—and Big Ben by extension—have been spreading the ball all around the offense during the first half of the season. That’s why almost every week a different WR/TE has led the team in target—Diontae Johnson, Johnson, Eric Ebron/James Washington, Claypool, Washington, and Johnson. The time he was the number one receiver in usage (Week 5) Claypool just destroyed Philly to the tune of 42.6 PPR (11/7/110/3 plus a rushing TD).
Claypool has not been targeted more than four times in any other game through the season, and had his worst performance last weekend (-0.2) against Tennessee. That is probably not holding, but the situation merits paying attention to. And it is not that Claypool is going to put up 20+ fantasy points weekly...
Marcus Peters hasn’t shadowed anyone this season and is not expected to shadow Claypool either, but when the wideout faced such coverage in Weeks 3 (Bradley Roby) and 7 (Malcolm Butler) he suffered a ton catching just one of two targets for his -2 yards last Sunday. Peters has allowed just one receiver to score more than 15 PPR points on him this season, and he has limited three other wide receivers to under 10 PPR while covering them.
Only 15 cornerbacks have reached 275 defensive snaps on coverage through Week 7, and Peters has been targeted the fifth-fewest times (38), which speaks volumes of the respect he commands. He’s limited receivers to 35-or-fewer yards in four of six games and has intercepted a couple of passes already this season.